Al Qaeda is recruiting American Muslims to carry out terror attacks, according to a US Congressman.
Republican Peter King has convened controversial Congressional hearings to examine the so-called “radicalisation” of Islam in the United States.
“We must be fully aware that homegrown radicalisation is part of al Qaeda’s strategy to continue attacking the United States,” said King, Chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee. “Al Qaeda is actively targeting the American Muslim community for recruitment. Today’s hearing will address this dangerous trend.”
But there are fears the debate could do more harm than good, by demonising Muslims.
“I have heard concerns that today’s hearing will stoke a climate of fear and distrust in the Muslim community,” said Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson. “It may also increase the fear and distrust of the Muslim community. For law enforcement officials, outreach and cooperation may become more difficult.”
Critics denounce what they see as a witch-hunt. But supporters of the hearings say they are necessary to address a real threat.
Many American Muslims complain of being stigmatised since the September 11 attacks of 2001. A new survey indicates that some 40 per cent of Americans believe Islam encourages violence more than other religions.